A Taste of Hunger goes for the culinary jugular as a searing drama, seasoned with sprinkles of eroticism. An overly simplistic plot about two budding restauranteurs striving for Michelin star status is the perfect backdrop for stunning performances from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Katrine Greis-Rosenthal. Though the movie is more about the relationship than the food, I did admittedly pause it less than five minutes in to devour a meal whilst watching. I guess one could say in this way, A Taste of Hunger truly lives up to its name.
Carsten (Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his wife Maggi (Katrine Greis-Rosenthal) have two amazing children, and are working hard to maintain their biggest dream: for their restaurant, Malus, to be awarded a coveted Michelin star. Their coveted status begins to slip through their fingers after Carsten is tipped off about a man visiting from Michelin who will be evaluating them. He has a complete breakdown when he discovers the cook, Frederik (Charlie Gustafsson), has served their signature oysters with over-fermented lemons. Carsten becomes convinced that everything he and Maggi have worked so hard to build is now for moot. Carsten is prepared to throw in the towel and work at McDonalds, but Maggi refuses to give up until she finds the Michelin agent to beg him for another chance.
The action unfolds split into different parts, including Sweet, Sour, and Salt, providing the audience with insight split almost equally between present day and flashbacks. I think by structuring the film so heavy on the past, it somewhat detracts from the action happening presently. One already knows how their relationship ends up, so what is to be gained structurally by showing how happy they once were? The good thing here is that although we as an audience are experiencing things entirely out of order, it serves to flesh out the characters of Carsten and Maggi. By the time the final few minutes play out, I felt fully invested in where the characters would go from here.
I give this film three Michelin stars out of five. I was entertained and intrigued by the story of Carsten and Maggi in spite of the patchwork way it is strung together. A light and fluffy film this is not, and yet, this Danish production tugged at my heartstrings. Particularly, a scene that unfolds in the woods as a parent’s worst nightmare chilled me to the bone. The movie places emphasis on the beauty of plating and hard work, and reminds us that sometimes the very best of meals are best consumed together.
A Taste of Hunger strives for Michelin star status when it debuts in limited theaters on Friday, January 28th.